- Dustin Salomon's 2016 book Building Shooters is subtitled Applying Neuroscience Research to Tactical System
Training Design and Training Delivery. The latter part of the book is mostly oriented toward restructuring firearms
training as it is conducted in a relatively extended academy setting.
- Most people reading this will be taking training in the private sector - typically on a condensed time frame of one day
to four or five days - where some of the proposed training model would not apply. This difference will be most crucial
for those who will be developing the basic skills and what follows is intended to help overcome the contradiction.
- First, the simplified model of how learning takes place and gets "cemented" or consolidated:
- New information or skills are recorded in short-term memory, which is similar to the RAM (Random Access Memory) in
your computer. However, even recording in short-term memory requires that the new material get past the brain's
unconscious "filtering" of all the stimuli to which it is subjected. One factor influencing retention in short-term
memory is that there is a limit to how much information can be retained without new information replacing earlier
- In order for learned information or skills to be retained, they must be consolidated into long-term memory. For
our purposes, long-term memory is divided into procedural memory - where physical skills that don't require
conscious thought are stored - and declarative memory - where information (data) and physical skills that do
require conscious thought are stored. The real challenge is consolidating long-term procedural memory.
Consolidation can be impaired or enhanced by different factors:
- Fear or stress will generally impair consolidation into long-term memory.
- Presentation of too much material per session - particularly alternative or conflicting techniques - will impair
consolidation into long-term memory.
- "Priming" - careful exposure before the training session - will improve consolidation into long-term memory.
- "Off-line time" - both awake and asleep - will improve consolidation into long-term memory.
- With a normal sleep schedule, teaching the crucial material in the afternoon will improve consolidation into long-term
- So here's the take-home message: If the instructor with whom you will train can recommend some reading material,
preferably illustrated, you can prepare in advance for at least some of the skills that will be taught in the
- Pick one or two skills, such as proper grasp of the gun and sight alignment/sight picture, and practice them safely, in dry-fire mode, in the afternoon or early evening.
- Review those skills the following day, then add one or two more, such as trigger manipulation and stance.
- I'm not really a video fan but I imagine that the same thing can be done with an instructional video but that it would
work better viewing it only through each skill being prepped that day.
- Even without these insights, when I offered live training, I noticed that students who had read my book before the
course seemed to absorb the skills taught on the range much more readily.
- And, as suggested elsewhere, "stage-three training," in the form of force-on-force scenarios,
is probably more productively viewed as testing than as teaching.